Safeguarding: An update on the Disclosure and Barring Service
Schools will be among those bodies most affected by the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the recent Course of Appeal case, which have brought in significant changes to criminal records checks for any organisations that work with children.
Formation of the DBS
Some of the Act’s key changes have already been implemented. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formed on 1 December 2012 following the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which has seen minor changes to forms, names and contact details but does not appear to be affecting the day to day practicalities of making checks.
Introduction of the Update Service
Another key change was introduced on 17 June 2013. This was the introduction of the Update Service. This will allow individuals to reuse their Criminal Record Check Certificate to allow their employer to check on line if it is still up to date.
In a move intended to reduce red tape, save time and money for both the Government, schools and other voluntary organisations (by reducing the number of criminal record checks people need to have), the Update Service is something that schools should familiarise themselves with and ensure that employees and volunteers are aware of the service. The aim will be to have one application to the DBS for a certificate and, with the consent of the applicant, organisations will be able to check on line instantly and then (and for free) whether the existing certificate is still up to date. If there has been any change, the organisation will be informed, and the applicant will have to apply for a new certificate.
Of course, in certain roles, especially those where an individual would be in very close contact with children or vulnerable young adults, an additional check will be required in order to establish whether that individual may be barred from certain roles such as teaching for example.
The fee for this will be £13 per year for any paid employee, but for volunteers the service will be free. This in particular could encourage an increase in the level of volunteering at schools.
However, simply having a DBS certificate does not automatically entitle existing employees and volunteers to become a part of the new system. In order to use the Update Service, any individual making an application for the certificate will have to opt into the service. Not only will organisations therefore need to make employees and volunteers aware of the options to opt in, but they will also need to ensure that any individual employee or volunteer passes on their DBS certificate, as these will now only be sent to the individual from now on.
This briefing only covers a small number of the reporting and checking obligations which schools have to comply with. If you have any questions in relation to this, please do not hesitate to contact us.
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.